- KFF Health News Original Stories 3
- Drivers in Decline: A Shortage of Volunteers Complicates Access to Care in Rural America
- For the Houma People, Displacement Looms With Every Storm
- Listen: How Does Human Composting Work?
- Political Cartoon: 'All-In-One?'
- Outbreaks and Health Threats 2
- 'Uncharted Territory': Covid, Flu, RSV Infections All Expected To Rise
- Monkeypox Infections Lead To 6 More Deaths
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
Public transit is already insufficient in rural areas, leaving residents with few options as they travel greater distances to access health care. But older residents who depend on volunteer drivers to get them to appointments face another challenge: The number of those volunteers is declining. (Christina Saint Louis, )
The Houma, an Indigenous tribe, has seen much of its Gulf Coast community washed away by rising sea levels and dangerous storms. Its leaders say the tribe’s lack of federal recognition makes it harder to keep rebuilding. (Emmarie Huetteman, )
California Healthline’s Bernard J. Wolfson went on the air to explain a new California law that will allow people to have their bodies reduced to compost after death, an alternative to the traditional-but-toxic methods of cremation and burial. ( )
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'All-In-One?'" by Bob and Tom Thaves.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
RURAL HEALTH CARE IS A MESS
Broken rural health:
Private, vets, troops, native care.
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if we can include your name. Haikus follow the format of 5-7-5 syllables. We give extra brownie points if you link back to an original story.
Opinions expressed in haikus and cartoons are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions of KFF Health News or KFF.
We’re excited to share that our new Rural Desk is up and running. Meet our team. On Oct. 25, we will launch a monthly newsletter featuring KHN stories from across the country that dive into the health issues and policies impacting people who live in America’s rural reaches. Sign up for the Rural Dispatch.
Correction: The Oct. 20, 2022, edition of KHN's Morning Briefing incorrectly attributed research on physician attitudes toward treating patients with disabilities. The focus group results were published in Health Affairs.
Summaries Of The News:
Two employees in the mother/baby unit at Methodist Dallas Medical Center were shot and killed Saturday, reports say. A 30-year-old man out on parole has been charged in the slayings. He'd been given permission to attend the birth of his child.
Fox4 News KDFW:
Healthcare Workers Raise Concerns About Safety After Shooting Kills 2 Nurses At Dallas Hospital
Multiple healthcare workers have reached out to FOX 4 about safety concerns following the shooting that killed two nurses in the mother/baby unit at Methodist Dallas Medical Center on Saturday. The healthcare workers all say the gunman is the person responsible for the shooting, but they wonder if something could have been done to stop it before it happened. (Sentendrey, 10/23)
2 Employees Killed In Dallas Hospital Shooting
Two employees were shot and killed by the suspect, Methodist Health said. The victims were not immediately identified. Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson tweeted that both employees were nurses, but neither the hospital nor law enforcement had publicly confirmed those details as of Sunday. (Tanyos, 10/23)
Official: Dallas Shooter Was Attending Birth At Hospital
The 30-year-old man charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of two Dallas hospital employees was on parole and had been given permission to be at the medical facility for the birth of a child, a Texas prison official said Sunday. Nestor Hernandez was granted leave to be with his “significant other” at Methodist Dallas Medical Center during her delivery Saturday, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Amanda Hernandez. She said he’d been sentenced to prison for aggravated robbery and was released on parole last October, but did not provide additional details on the circumstances of the shooting. (10/23)
The Biden administration unveiled plans to impose tougher consequences on the worst-performing nursing homes. For the small number already designated as “special focus" facilities, they could lose federal funds if they receive more than one violation citation.
Biden Administration Vows Tougher Oversight Of Poor-Performing Nursing Homes With Safety Issues
The Biden administration announced plans Friday to toughen oversight of the nation's poorest-performing nursing homes with escalating fines and terminating federal funding for the homes that fail to improve. (Alltucker, 10/21)
Failing US Nursing Homes To Face Tougher Federal Penalties
The new guidelines announced Friday will apply to less than 0.5% of the nation’s nursing homes. The facilities are already designated as a “special focus facility” because of a previous violation and are on a watchlist of sorts that requires the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare to monitor them more regularly. (Seitz, 10/21)
CMS Nursing Home Crackdown Targets Poorest Performers
“Poor-performing nursing homes have the opportunity to improve, but if they fail to do so, the changes we are making to CMS’ Special Focus Facilities Program will hold these facilities accountable for the health and safety of their residents,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a news release. (Devereaux, 10/21)
The plan includes expanded availability of medication to treat substance abuse. Also: a new paramedic policy for overdose patients, and fentanyl contamination in cocaine.
The New York Times:
Biden Administration Offers Plan To Get Addiction-Fighting Medicine To Pregnant Women
The Biden administration will use federal courts and health programs to expand the use of medication to treat substance use disorders in pregnant women, according to a report by the White House released Friday. The plan is part of the administration’s broader effort to combat a drug crisis that now kills more than 100,000 Americans annually. (Baumgaertner, 10/21)
Biden Administration To Expand Use Of Medication To Treat Addiction In Pregnant Women
The initiative will develop training and technical assistance about medications for opioid addiction treatment, like buprenorphine and methadone, for women who are part of government programs through the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services. It also will offer opioid addition education to women’s health providers through the Department of Veterans Affairs. (Gangitano, 10/21)
A New Paramedic Policy May Guide Overdose Patients Into Treatment
As the number of opioid overdose deaths continues to surge across the United States, some experts stress the urgency of providing the addiction treatment medication buprenorphine to drug users as soon as possible, on the scene of an overdose. (Vestal, 10/21)
The Wall Street Journal:
Three New Yorkers Ordered Cocaine From The Same Delivery Service. All Died From Fentanyl.
Cocaine has long had allure in New York City, where in the 1980s it became associated with jet setting clubbers and elite professionals. Usage estimates in the city remain higher than the roughly 2% national rate of Americans taking the drug annually for the past two decades. The addition of fentanyl into supplies in the past decade has tripled the yearly number of New Yorkers dying. (Patrick, 10/23)
Republican lawmakers say that the Defense Department's plans to pay for service members' abortion travel could be the subject of future legislation, especially if they gain control of Congress in the November elections.
New Pentagon Abortion Policy Likely To Trigger Legislative War
A day-old Pentagon policy on female servicemembers' access to reproductive health services is already triggering election-year sniping among lawmakers and figures to loom large in forthcoming legislation. (Donnelly, 10/21)
Trial Over Georgia's Restrictive Abortion Law To Begin
A trial to determine whether Georgia can continue to ban abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy is set to begin in an Atlanta courtroom Monday. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney has scheduled two days of testimony in a lawsuit that seeks to strike down the law on multiple grounds, including that it violates the Georgia Constitution’s right to privacy and liberty by “forcing pregnancy and childbirth upon countless Georgians.” (10/24)
Anchorage Daily News:
Abortion Access Has Become A Key Issue For Democrats In Many Alaska Legislative Campaigns
Across urban Alaska districts, key issues have included the cost of living, education funding, the Permanent Fund dividend and public safety — and then for progressives, protecting abortion access. “I think that it is the — and I would emphasize the — issue that we are hearing about from voters across the political spectrum in different neighborhoods across Alaska,” said Lindsay Kavanaugh, executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party. (Maguire, 10/23)
States Are Banning Abortion, But Only A Small Minority Of Constituents Want That
In states that have passed abortion bans, only 13 percent of people are in favor of the procedure being completely restricted, a new analysis of a recent 19th News/SurveyMonkey poll shows. Despite huge differences in the legality of abortion across the United States in the months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, there is little difference in support for abortion being legal in all or most cases. There is, however, a persistent gender gap in opinion: Women are more likely to support accessible abortion than men, no matter the restrictions in their state of residence. In states that have banned abortion, Black Americans are significantly less likely to back restrictions than White Americans. (Mithani, 10/24)
What It's Like Being An Abortion Doula In A State With Restrictive Laws
In the hectic days after Roe v. Wade was overturned, Ash Williams, an abortion doula, welcomed panicked pregnant people into North Carolina's abortion clinics. His job has become even more challenging after the state tightened its abortion laws. In general, an abortion doula is a person who provides support to a patient, and the term is often used to describe someone who gives guidance during labor. As an abortion doula, Williams provides physical, emotional or financial help to people seeking to end a pregnancy. If he can, Williams does all three. (Adams, 10/19)
Dr. Rochelle Walensky has mild symptoms, media outlets report, and caught covid despite being "up to date" on covid shots and using precautions like masks. Separately, NBC News covers the risk of new variants for people with immune deficiencies, and other reports note the rise of BQ.1 and BQ.1.1.
CDC Director Tests Positive For Covid-19
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tested positive for Covid-19 Friday. Walensky is experiencing mild symptoms and is up-to-date on her Covid-19 vaccines, according to a statement released by the agency. Walensky received an updated Covid-19 booster in September. (Gumbrecht and Elassar, 10/22)
U.S. CDC Director Tests Positive For COVID-19, Experiencing Mild Symptoms
A spokesperson said Walensky was not at the White House late this week and did not meet with any senior U.S. officials before testing positive. She attended the World Health Summit in Berlin on Monday and Tuesday, the spokesperson said, adding that she wore a mask at all times except when eating or publicly speaking. She returned to the United States on Wednesday. (10/22)
More on the spread of covid —
Omicron Subvariants Pose A New Threat To People With Immune Deficiencies
People with compromised immune systems face a new winter of discontent as the ever-mutating omicron virus threatens to outrun the preventive monoclonal antibody cocktail that hundreds of thousands of them have relied upon for extra protection against Covid. (Ryan, 10/23)
San Francisco Chronicle:
BQ.1 And BQ 1.1 Make Up Nearly One In Five U.S. Coronavirus Samples
BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 made up 16.6% of the total coronavirus variants circulating in the United States this week, up from 11.4% last week, according to data published Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rapidly spreading offshoots of the omicron BA.5 variant continue to crowd out their dominant ancestor, which made up 62.2% of the sequenced cases, down from 70.2%. BF.7 has also gained some ground, making up 6.7% of the cases. (Vaziri, 10/21)
Dallas Morning News:
Is The U.S. Likely To Experience A COVID Surge? Here’s What Variant Is Rising In Europe
Some parts of Europe are seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases this month, and health officials speculate a surge might also hit the U.S. — including in North Texas — this winter. According to the World Health Organization, Europe recorded an 8% increase in cases from the end of September to the week ending Oct. 2. Infections began to rise as the fall season began in the Northern Hemisphere. (Adatia, 10/21)
Few Missouri School Districts Used State COVID Testing Program
A Boston biotech company was paid over $16 million in Missouri for its work operating a little-used COVID testing program that only 25 school districts opted into. (Weinberg, 10/22)
The New York Times:
Lab Manipulations Of Covid Virus Fall Under Murky Government Rules
Even as the government publicly reprimanded Boston University, it raised no red flags publicly about several other experiments it funded in which researchers manipulated coronaviruses in similar ways. One of them was carried out by the government’s own scientists. (Zimmer and Mueller, 10/22)
Despite a growing concern over new omicron subvariants, surveys and data indicate lower adoption rates of the follow-up shots.
The New York Times:
Among Seniors, A Declining Interest In Boosters
Although Americans over 65 remain the demographic most likely to have received the original series of vaccinations, at 92 percent, their interest in keeping their vaccinations up-to-date is steadily declining, data from the C.D.C. shows. To date, about 71 percent have received the first recommended booster, but only about 44 percent have received the second. (Span, 10/22)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Californians Are Not Getting The Latest COVID Booster. Here Is Where Uptake Is The Lowest
Have you gotten your bivalent booster yet? If you live in California, chances are the answer is no, according to data from the California Department of Public Health. As of Oct. 18, just 9% of eligible residents statewide — about 2.6 million people — have had a bivalent booster, the first COVID shot directed at the highly infectious omicron variants responsible for almost all new infections in the state. (Neilson, 10/22)
Biden To Get Updated Covid Booster Shot Tuesday
President Joe Biden will get the updated Covid-19 shot Tuesday after he delivers remarks about the pandemic and the administration’s efforts to get people in the U.S. boosted, a White House official said. (Alba, 10/23)
Fast-evolving virus may lead to more booster shots —
FDA’s Vaccines Chief Sees Possibility Of More Covid Boosters
Peter Marks, who leads the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccines operation, is still losing sleep over Covid. He thinks it’s conceivable that the booster shot people are getting now may not be the last some will need for the coming year. (Branswell, 10/21)
Another study shows ivermectin is not an effective covid treatment —
Ivermectin Doesn't Speed Time To Recovery From Nonsevere COVID
Adding further evidence that the antiparasitic drug ivermectin is ineffective as a COVID-19 treatment, preliminary findings from an ongoing randomized, controlled clinical trial of repurposed drugs today in JAMA finds that it does not speed time to recovery in patients with mild to moderate infections. (Van Beusekom, 10/21)
Public health officials eye a potential "tripledemic" coming this winter. Hospitals are already straining to cope with the surge of patients.
The New York Times:
A ‘Tripledemic’? Flu And Other Infections Return As Covid Cases Rise
With few to no restrictions in place and travel and socializing back in full swing, an expected winter rise in Covid cases appears poised to collide with a resurgent influenza season, causing a “twindemic” — or even a “tripledemic,” with a third pathogen, respiratory syncytial virus, or R.S.V., in the mix. (Mandavilli, 10/23)
Respiratory Virus Cases In Children Surging "Like Never Before"
Respiratory illnesses in children are overwhelming hospitals across the United States right now. The unseasonably high numbers of respiratory illness in kids has put a strain on hospitals that are already preparing for the typical wintertime surge of patients ill from viruses. (Scribner, 10/21)
RSV In Children: Symptoms, Treatment And What Parents Should Know
In September, an 8-month-old baby came into Dr. Juanita Mora’s office in Chicago with an infection the doctor hadn’t expected to see for another two months: RSV. Like her peers across the country, the allergist and immunologist has been treating little ones with this cold-like virus well before the season usually starts. (Christensen, 10/24)
The Washington Post:
Half Of Virginia High School Out With ‘Flu-Like’ Symptoms
Half the student body of a Virginia high school has fallen ill, leading the district to cancel athletics and activities for the school through Sunday. Stafford County Public Schools spokeswoman Sandra Osborn said Friday that roughly 1,000 of Stafford High School’s 2,100 students were absent from class “with flu-like/gastrointestinal symptoms.” (Natanson, 10/23)
Hospitals are scrambling for beds —
Experts Warn Of Severe Upcoming Flu Season As Pediatric Hospitals Already Feel The Crush
Pediatric bed capacity in hospitals is the highest it has been in two years. Around the country, hospitals are being inundated with pediatric patients sick with respiratory illnesses filling up to 71% of the estimated 40,000 available hospital beds, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports. (Benadjaoud and Egan, 10/22)
Children's Hospitals Grapple With A Nationwide Surge In RSV Infections
RSV symptoms are similar to a cold and can be harmless in adults, but the CDC says children under the age of 5 are the most affected group. According to the agency's data, each year approximately 58,000 children in that age range are hospitalized for RSV. The next most vulnerable group are adults over 65, in whom the infection causes 14,000 deaths a year. (Romo, 10/24)
The Washington Post:
RSV, Other Viruses Push Several Children's Hospitals To Capacity
Children’s hospitals are under strain in the United States as they care for unusually high numbers of kids infected with RSV and other respiratory viruses.It’s the latest example of how the pandemic has upended the usual seasonal patterns of respiratory illnesses, denying a respite for health-care professionals ahead of a potential hectic winter as the coronavirus, influenza and other viruses collide. (Nirappil and Cha, 10/21)
The Boston Globe:
Hospitals Scramble To Find Beds As Pediatric Admissions Rise
Dr. Lara Jirmanus asked the mom on the video visit last week to bring the computer closer to the baby’s chest. The 2-week-old’s breathing was noisy and concerning, but Jirmanus couldn’t tell from the video if the sounds were from the baby’s nose or from her lungs. (Bartlett, 10/21)
The deaths were reported in New York City, Chicago, Nevada, and Maryland. Meanwhile, a study reported in CIDRAP says that racial disparities in the monkeypox vaccine program are easing somewhat. And while case numbers decline, experts still emphasize caution.
Six People Who Tested Positive For Monkeypox Have Died, Health Departments Confirm
Six people who tested positive for monkeypox – two in New York City, two in Chicago, one in Nevada and one in Maryland – have died, local health departments have confirmed. (Frehse, Dillinger and Elassar, 10/23)
CDC: Monkeypox Vaccine Reaching More Members Of Minority Groups
Disparities among groups receiving the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine have narrowed somewhat, with vaccine receipt proportions more than doubling in Black people and increasing almost 50% in Hispanic groups, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). (Wappes, 10/21)
The Wall Street Journal:
Monkeypox Outbreak Leaves Risks, Questions In Its Wake
As a global outbreak of monkeypox loses steam, disease researchers said they need a better understanding of how the virus spreads, and how well vaccination protects against it to predict whether it could come roaring back. A global outbreak that gained momentum in May spread the virus much farther than it had been found previously. The virus might have reached new animal hosts, increasing the risk of future outbreaks, said epidemiologists and infectious-disease specialists. The extent to which vaccination has protected the most at-risk people from catching monkeypox is unknown. (Roland, 10/21)
Detroit Free Press:
Michigan's Top Doctor Weighs In On State Of Monkeypox Outbreak
"The news is very promising," said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the state's chief medical executive. "The number of cases that we are picking up has declined. We saw a peak in the number of cases we were picking up and testing for in August and those numbers have come down, and have come down quite steadily, both in the state of Michigan as well as in the majority of the country and in lots of places around the world." (Jordan Shamus, 10/22)
A report finds 117,000 physicians are the biggest group among some 334,000 health care workers who left the workforce, with retirement, burnout, and other pandemic stressors to blame. A nurse strike in the Bay Area, hospitals' financial struggles, and other issues are also in industry news.
Physicians Left Their Jobs In Droves In 2021: Report
As a profession, physicians lost the most members, with 117,000 individuals leaving their roles last year, followed by nurse practitioners, which lost 53,295 members and physician assistants, with 22,704 positions vacated, according to a report published Thursday by Definitive Healthcare. (Devereaux, 10/20)
Bay Area News Group:
Registered Nurses Plan Five-Day Strike At Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Campuses In Oakland, Berkeley
Hundreds of registered nurses plan to hold a five-day strike over concerns about workplace conditions at Sutter Health’s three Alta Bates Summit Medical Center campuses in Oakland and Berkeley. (Rodgers, 10/23)
Hospitals Struggling Financially After COVID-19 Pandemic, Survey Says
The past year has proven more taxing financially than any in recent memory for the Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, pushing hospital leaders to consider whether they will discontinue certain types of care. (Rudavsky, 10/21)
Epic's Overhaul Of A Flawed Algorithm Holds Important Lessons For AI
Epic, the nation’s dominant seller of electronic health records, was bracing for a catastrophe. It was June 2021, and a study about to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association had found that Epic’s artificial intelligence tool to predict sepsis, a deadly complication of infection, was prone to missing cases and flooding clinicians with false alarms. (Ross, 10/24)
On rural health care —
Drivers In Decline: A Shortage Of Volunteers Complicates Access To Care In Rural America
Several times a month, Jim Maybach drives 5 miles from his house in Hay Creek, Minnesota, toward the Mississippi River. When he reaches Red Wing, a city of nearly 17,000 people, the 79-year-old retired engineer stops to pick up a senior whom he then delivers to an appointment, such as a dentist visit or an exercise class. When the appointment ends, Maybach is there to drive the person home. (Saint Louis, 10/24)
Carolina Public Press:
No Internet, No Telehealth
Two summers ago, Lee Berger sat in her Macon County, N.C., home hunched over a laptop — pulling the small computer closer to her face. It was Berger’s first telehealth appointment, a routine check-up with her primary care physician, and she couldn’t hear what the doctor was saying. (Harris, 10/22)
Doctors are also running short of helium for MRI machines as the nonrenewable element becomes scarcer around the world. Meanwhile, doctors have suggestions for those who are having trouble filling their Adderall prescriptions.
Amoxicillin, Common Antibiotic To Treat Infections In Children, In Short Supply In US
Three of the top four makers of the antibiotic amoxicillin, commonly used to treat bacterial infections in children, are reporting supply constraints in the US. (Swetlitz and John Milton, 10/21)
Helium Shortage: Doctors Are Worried That Running Out Of The Element Could Threaten MRIs
Strange as it sounds, the lighter-than-air element that gives balloons their buoyancy also powers the vital medical diagnostic machines. An MRI can’t function without some 2,000 liters of ultra-cold liquid helium keeping its magnets cool enough to work. But helium — a nonrenewable element found deep within the Earth’s crust — is running low, leaving hospitals wondering how to plan for a future with a much scarcer supply. (Hopkins, 10/22)
The Washington Post:
Doctors' Advice On Renewing Adderall Prescriptions Amid The Shortage
If you’re having trouble renewing your Adderall prescription, experts say you should work with your health-care provider to shop around at nearby pharmacies or discuss rewriting your prescription to a version of the medication that isn’t in such high demand. (Amenabar, 10/21)
Surgical standards haven't been updated in over 30 years, USA Today reports, and are said to be out of step with growing U.S. obesity levels. Updated standards could increase the number of people eligible for bariatric surgery. Among other news: transplant surgery, schizophrenia gene links, and more.
Weight Loss Surgery Qualifications May Change Under New Guidelines
Two groups of bariatric surgeons have overhauled weight loss surgery guidelines for the first time in more than 30 years, saying the previous standards are out of date and inadequate to cope with America's growing levels of obesity. The new standards, released early Friday, will vastly increase the number of people eligible for the operations. (Weintraub, 10/21)
In news about heart surgery and heart health —
How Groundbreaking Tech Could Revolutionize Heart Transplants In Houston
On Sept. 24, doctors filed into a bustling Houston Methodist operating room to gaze at the novelty of a heart that appeared to beat on its own. A close look revealed the secret — a waist-high apparatus that looked like an office-style copy machine, housing a bag of blood to supply oxygen through two tubes fastened to key arteries. (Gill, 10/21)
The Boston Globe:
Growing Scrutiny Of A Quality Standard That May Influence End-Of-Life Decisions For Heart Surgery Patients
Some surgeons are believed to “game the system to improve their statistical outcomes,” said Dr. Mary Braun, who has worked as a palliative care doctor in New Hampshire. In these cases, “suffering is typically tremendous for frail, near-death patients being subjected to these extreme measures to keep them alive.” (Kowalczyk, Ostriker and Fernandes, 10/22)
Women And Men Are Different, Cardiovascular Edition
It’s quite the task to photograph someone’s heart while they’re exercising. They have to lie on their back in a pressure-controlled chamber, riding a suspended stationary bike while an ultrasound imager points at their pumping heart — at least that’s how one group of researchers from the University of Calgary and Hong Kong went about it. (Williamson-Lee, 10/24)
In other health and wellness news —
Genes Link Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Once Thought Unrelated
A growing body of research shows that bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and the in-between diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder share common genetic underpinnings as well as overlapping symptoms and signs. “They can be considered as part of a spectrum,” said Dr. Morgan Sheng, who co-directs a psychiatric research center at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. (Ungar, 10/22)
First Lady To Host Roundtable On Breast And Cervical Cancer
First lady Jill Biden will host a roundtable Monday on breast and cervical cancer, part of the administration’s “moonshot” effort to reduce deaths from cancer, the White House said. The event is one of many being launched by the American Cancer Society. Singer Mary J. Blige, an advocate for cancer screening, will participate in the roundtable with Biden. (10/21)
Listen: How Does Human Composting Work?
California Healthline senior correspondent Bernard J. Wolfson appeared on KMOX, a St. Louis radio station, in mid-October to discuss a new California law that will allow “human composting” as an alternative to burial and cremation. Human composting, also known as “natural organic reduction,” can be appealing to those who worry about the health of the environment. Cremation leaves a big carbon footprint, while the toxic chemicals used to embalm bodies before burial can leach into the soil. (10/24)
Infections of Candida auris, a drug-resistant superbug, were reported in three infants with heart defects at a Las Vegas hospital in May. The Las Vegas Review-Journal says it's the first U.S. cluster of pediatric cases of the fungus. Other news is on Medicaid expansion, prisoner health monitoring, and more.
Las Vegas Review-Journal:
First “Superbug” Candida Auris Cluster In Children Identified At Las Vegas Hospital
Three cases of once-rare Candida auris, a drug-resistant “superbug,” were reported in infants with heart defects at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report obtained through a public records request. (Hynes, 10/22)
Dems Push Medicaid Expansion For Left-Behind Rural Georgia
Nine years after the hospital closed in the southwest Georgia town of Arlington, the worry about health care lurks. Health insurance premiums are high, many residents report poor health and there’s no guarantee Calhoun County’s sole ambulance will arrive promptly if it’s taking a patient to a distant hospital. “If it’s out on a call, you might as well throw them in the truck then and try to get somewhere,” said resident Sam Robinson. (Amy, 10/22)
San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego Jails' Medically Vulnerable Get Health Monitoring
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is launching a pilot program that will outfit 10 of the downtown Central Jail’s most medically at-risk people with a health-monitoring device. (Davis, 10/22)
For The Houma People, Displacement Looms With Every Storm
For generations, Thomas Dardar Jr.’s family has lived on a small bayou island off the coast of Louisiana called Isle de Jean Charles. Environmental changes, rising seawaters, and storms have dramatically changed the island. Home to members of the United Houma Nation, the island is now about 320 acres, a sliver of the more than 22,000 acres it was in the mid-20th century. Massive hurricanes, including Katrina and Ida, have raked the area. Relief efforts struggled to meet the devastation caused in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people along the Gulf Coast, swept away coastal land, and caused more than $100 billion in damage. The island’s only road to the mainland is often impassable because of strong winds and rising water. Encroaching water has made growing food difficult. (Huetteman, 10/24)
Editorial writers delve into these public health issues and more.
The New York Times:
We May Have Only A Few Months To Prevent The Next Pandemic
Even if the next pandemic is years off, it’s likely we have only a few months to lay the groundwork to prepare for it. So what should be done? (Craig Spencer, 10/24)
US Nursing Strikes Mean Burnout, Shortage About To Get Worse
The Government Affairs Committee of the American Nurses Association predicts that the United States will need to produce more than 1 million additional nurses to fill both new nursing jobs and replace the ever-increasing wave of retiring nurses. (Dr. David Weill, 10/24)
Should My Kid Get The Covid Booster Vaccine? As A Doctor, I Strongly Recommend It.
The politicization of the pandemic has eroded public confidence in vaccines, which are among our greatest public health tools. This tragic response pertains primarily to the COVID-19 vaccines, but could soon extend beyond it. (Dr. Marc Siegel, 10/24)
The Star Tribune:
Why Must People With Disabilities Beg And Scratch For Basic Rights?
Help me understand why in this world we live in, we still have to fight for the right of people with disabilities to live in a world that is inclusive. (Gina Norris, 10/23)
Dallas Morning News:
Alzheimer’s Research Remains Underfunded And Under-Prioritized
More than 6.5 million Americans 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s. Here in Texas, there are more than 400,000. Alzheimer’s is the seventh leading cause of death in Texas and across the nation, according to the State Department of Health and Human Services. (Eddie Bernice Johnson, 10/22)
Keeping Families Out Of ICUs No Longer Makes Sense
Like so many other people admitted to the ICU during the pandemic, my dad was left to endure critical illness without those he loved the most. As I look back on two-plus years of flawed Covid-19 policies, the willful decision to separate families from their dying loved ones was the most inhumane. (Neel Vahil, 10/24)